Preventing Child Medical Identity Theft
Along with being able to talk to providers and insurance companies from an informed standpoint, you will also benefit from knowing more about how criminals work to fraudulently bill others for various items including health care services. There has been a flurry of reports about a growing practice that’s pretty disturbing, especially to new parents. It involves criminals simply using children’s identities to bill medical services and other items to credit accounts.
Doesn’t The Government Check a Consumer’s Age?
You would think that children would be safe from identity theft because of their age. But, the reality is that with the complex database systems of many governments and private businesses, it’s often possible for criminals to commit fraud by using the Social Security number and other identifying information of a minor. At the same time, many of these efforts are successful specifically because nobody else is checking the credit account for a minor. Since a child can’t usually make purchases or access his or her credit, everyone figures the accounts will be dormant. What some unlucky parents are finding out, though, is that to many government agencies and businesses, one Social Security number is as good as another, and the issue of age does not factor into many of these fraudulent accounts. In some cases, criminals who open these kind of accounts can keep using them for months or even years.
What To Do About Child Identity Theft
Much of what consumer advocates recommend in terms of deterring child identity theft is the same as what you would do to prevent adult identity theft. This involves credit report monitoring and regular checks on credit accounts according to Social Security number and other identifying information.
In terms of handling child identity theft when it occurs, parents should notify all three of the major consumer credit agencies. They should also document these crimes as well as they can, and alert their local law enforcement as well as the Federal Trade Commission or FTC.
Child Identity Theft and Medical Bills
It’s often hard for parents to sort out exactly why they are receiving high-dollar medical bills. These billed amounts could be clerical errors, or they could result from different kinds of insurance denials. In many cases, insurers are not denying, but simply paying late, and this triggers automatic bills from the provider that can range into thousands of dollars.
To separate child identity theft from other medical billing scenarios, take a good look at the patient information on the bill. Make sure that Social Security numbers and birth dates are correct, and that the bill corresponds to actual services that your child received on a given date. It also helps to communicate with providers on a regular basis and quickly hand them the correct information if you see that there are any errors on the bill.